I’ve lost count of the number of times last season that I saw the opposition had players on the bench for the whole match without getting them on the pitch at all. I hate to see this and my heart goes out to those unlucky benched souls who have been so keen all week to come along to a game and play in it, only to find that they “aren’t going to play this week”. MORE
Get your players to watch and learn
One of the best things about watching soccer on TV is that young players can see why they should do things. It helps them to put ideas into action because they know why they are doing it.
If we are practising crossing, it makes training easier if the players have seen attackers like Kevin de Bruyne and Neymar, or defenders like Marcelo and Kieran Trippier, creating scoring opportunities with well-hit crosses into the penalty area from a variety of angles.
It does the job for me when I say to my players that we have to practise crossing from different places on the wing. I can now ask them if they saw an example of this at the World Cup and why the player did it.
I think it is important when you are coaching players that they understand the reason for the session that you are running – if they don’t understand the reason, they will not spot the chances in a game when they can take advantage of the skill they have learned.
Relate the session to a game
By relating the session to the games they have seen at the World Cup they not only realise why they have to do the training but they will want to do it to emulate their heroes, and during matches it helps them to recognise when and where they cross.
I think as coaches we sometimes take it for granted that young players understand why they are doing sessions. This week I have been working on 2v1 sessions and I asked my players why did they think there were two attackers and just one defender. “Because this happens in matches” is the correct answer, but to them it seemed unfair if they had to be the lone defender.
Ask what they saw
So I asked them, “did you see the lone defender with two attackers in the Brazil game?” That helped them build up a picture of what the activity was for. They were then really eager to tell me every occasion they had seen attackers with a 2v1 advantage, and also what happened if the player passed the ball when the keeper came out and what happened when the player didn’t pass and a goalscoring chance went begging.
The words tumbled out to such an extent that we all laughed at the number of examples they came up with. Going back to my original question, it seemed now they knew they were practising this situation because it happens in matches, and because sometimes even the best players make the wrong decisions and miss a good chance to score.